One of the most common relationship problems stems from what to do when the relationship ends. Although most Jewish couples enter into marriage with the best of intentions, Jewish law recognizes that there are some circumstances in which divorce is better for both parties. Rabbi Earl A. Grollman says, “When the basic ingredients of love, communication, respect, and emotional support are missing, this holy union is terminable.” Once you have gotten your Get you are technically free to pursue another relationship with a partner who is better suited to your needs. However, navigating the minefield of how to deal with your ex-partner (particularly when a new partner enters your life) can be tricky, particularly if there are children involved.
Of course your children must be your primary consideration after a break-up. No matter how you feel about your ex, it is important that your children are not made to choose one parent or the other. Lack of respect for one’s partner is a common relationship problem, and one that can rub off on your children. Do not speak badly about your ex-spouse in front of them. It is important in Jewish tradition to respect one’s parents, and by putting down your ex you encourage your children to lose respect for him or her, and at the same time for you. No child wants to hear their parent spoken badly of. Even if your ex breaks this rule, be the bigger person and refuse to enter into the battle.
On the other hand, another common relationship problem is treating your ex-spouse like you are still married, which becomes an even bigger issue when you have begun a new relationship. Experts advise that you do not enter into a serious relationship for at least two years after a divorce. It takes that long to process the emotional fallout, mourn sufficiently and to be able to let go enough to move on with your life so you can avoid the same relationship problems in the future. In order to speed the healing process, it is best not to have contact with your ex at all for at least six months after the divorce to allow you to get some perspective and have time to heal. Of course, this is not possible if children are involved.
It is best for your children and for any new partner you may have to view your ex the same way you view your child’s teacher or day care person. You trust that person to be responsible for your children and know they are doing their best to provide them with a safe, happy and healthy environment when your children are not with you. You pay them for their time and respect the work they do. But you are not emotionally involved with them. This allows you to avoid the common relationship problem of making your current partner jealous of your ex, and will establish shalom bayit once more in your home.